Ethnic Women discuss social challenges, wellbeing at Summit

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Asoka Basnayake

Asoka Basnayake

Auckland, June 6, 2021

‘Women for Women’ meet attracts a cross-section of talents in Auckland


Members of the Organising Committee of ‘Women for Women Summit 2021’

‘Women for Women Summit’ was an exclusive event for and by ethnically diverse women held on Sunday, May 30, 2021 at Mt Eden War Memorial Hall in Auckland, providing an opportunity for women from a cross-section of communities across Auckland to celebrate, share and connect with others after months of uncertainty, lockdowns and change.

Business and community support

This was an initiative taken by a group of women and presented by EthNix Links, an Auckland based Not-For-Profit organisation, championed by Anne Degia Pala and sponsored by ABC Business Solutions, Bespoke Legal, BP, Belong Aotearoa, HummFM, Shanti Niwas, Shivani Restaurant, 0800Rachna, WinMac Solutions Ltd, FreeParking and Mercury Printz.

“We need to see it to become one. We are a network of collaborators, diverse women, working and doing what makes us leaders and decision-makers in our areas of work,” Anne, Founder of EthNix Links and Advocacy Network (ELAN), said.  

The Organising Committee comprised Anne Degia-Pala, Nilima Venkat, Roshila Prasad, Anita Keestra, Naz Sharif, Sakthi Krishnamurthi, Nanette Nathoo, Nitika Chand, Sreesutha Nampally, Kashika Singh, Shivani Arora, Sasi Syed, Shiro Pillay, Asoka Basnayake, Jennifer and Benazir Din.

Anne Degia-Pala, Dr Camille Nakhid and Nitika Chand at the Summit

 About Anne Degia-Pala

Anne has a long and impressive record of service in community and social welfare.

She was the first woman to be elected to the post of President at Waitakere Ethnic Board in 2004. She was appointed to the  Ethnic People’s Advisory Panel of Auckland Council in 2010 for her inclusive strategic leadership skills and her passion for diverse societies. 

She founded EthNix Links,  a  women’s leadership network in 2006 and is a Trustee of NixCrew Road Safety Trust, a board member of Make A Wish Pacific Foundation, and Drowning Prevention Auckland.

Anne is a visible ethnic woman, role model for many younger minority ethnic women who aim to be future leaders in society. She is an advocate for peace and social justice, equality, human rights and child poverty. The Summit is a part of her vision to discuss and share challenges and experiences and prepare an Action Plan for promoting the welfare and participation of women in mainstream New Zealand.

About the ‘Women for Women Summit 2021’

This event was earlier scheduled for March 8, 2021 to mark and celebrate International Women’s Day was postponed because of Covid-19 lockdown in Auckland. The organisers decided to turn it into a Summit rather than a celebration.

Opened with a Karakia by Sasi Syed, the Summit, held on May 30, 2021, attracted more than 100 women. A panel of well-known diverse women who have excelled in their various professions addressed the vibrant gathering.

Speakers and themes

Waseema Ahmed, a Scholar of Sacred Sciences, Teacher of Mathematics, Montessori Quranic Tafsir and Arabic Grammar and a Kindergarten Team Leader and Supervisor spoke about mental and holistic wellbeing for women.

Dr Anne Perera, a Scientist and Nutritionist, originally from Sri Lanka, spoke under the theme, ‘Nutrition Today, Health Tomorrow.’

Dr Camille Nakhid, former Chair of the Ethnic Peoples Advisory Panel and an Associate Professor at AUT (hailing from Trinidad and Tobago), defined Feminism,’ in her entertaining and thought-provoking speech.

Nilima Venkat, General Manager of Shanti Niwas Charitable Trust, spoke about the resilience of senior members of the society. A registered Social Worker with decades of experience in working with migrant seniors, she explained the realities in our communities.

Financial wellbeing at the core

Rachana Dave, a Registered Financial Advisor of 0800Rachna (Mortgage and Insurance), winner of Business Excellence in Marketing (2019), Business Excellence in Customer Service (2018), Best Businesswoman of the Year (2018) and Best Financial Advisor (Mortgage) of the Year (2017) at Indian Newslink Business Awards, Spoke of the financial wellbeing as the basis for mental and general wellbeing of women.

She suggested that all women should regularly review their bank accounts, income and expenditure, mortgage and other loans and talk to experts on ‘getting their finances right.’ “Finance is the root cause for most mental issues which impact on the overall health of people. Financial wellbeing adds to the core value of life itself,” she said.

Fazilat Shah, an Auckland-based Barrister with more than 35 years of experience in Family Law in New Zealand and Fiji, spoke underscored the importance of mediation services.

Sue Lim, a well-known health professional and Founder of eCald, a firm that provides educational programmes to improve the cultural and linguistic competence of people, narrated her own experience of surviving Cancer.

Anne Degia-Pala, Anita Keestra and Asoka Basnayake at the Summit

 Among the other highlights of the Women in Women Summit were opportunities for networking, raffle prizes stalls showcasing various products and services and exchanging personal contacts.

The next event will be held on Friday, September 24, 2021, incorporating the Ethnic Women Awards. Indian Newslink will publish details of this event in due course.

Editor’s Note:

Asoka Basnayake is a Writer, Journalist and community and social worker. She is a veteran with decades of experience in advising on policy matters, community issues. She lives in Auckland. The above Report is an edited version, with additions made by our Staff Reporter. Pictures by the author and from Facebook.

The above story has been sponsored by

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